Going 'Botham-esque' in Napier
One advantage of the Napier downtown is its close proximity to the area hotels, lodges and motels and with two World Cup games within a week’s span, the area is currently the base camp for four teams, journalists, commentators and broadcaster’s crew.
The TV broadcasters have recruited some stars of the game as commentators for the World Cup and the Pakistan-UAE game was no different with the panel also including the tormentor of Australia, legendary all-rounder Sir Ian Botham – the former England captain, nicknamed Beefy for both his bulk and brawn.
While flying in from Brisbane, I had the opportunity of watching a spellbinding documentary on Botham’s heroics during the 1981 Ashes series which was centred on the Headingley post follow-on heist that sealed arguably England’s greatest Test win.
The strength of Beefy’s character was dissected brilliantly in the presentation and images of his brutal assault on the likes of Dennis Lillee and Terry Alderman was pure goose bumps.
Napier’s downtown has Beefy on its guest list for the week and I could not resist the God-sent opportunity of picking his brain after spotting him walking towards his hotel.
After exchanging pleasantries, Beefy asked about my origin and subsequently inquired about security in Karachi, expressing hope of an improvement in the situation soon.
Botham also felt that Pakistan cricket was suffering due to isolation and wished that the team would turnaround their fortunes at the World Cup. A question on England’s performance in the tournament was brushed aside in true ‘Bothamesque’ way; “You reap what you sow” was all that the greatest English cricketer of all time had to say in a quip which was an apparent dig at the policies of the selectors and functionaries of the England Cricket Board (ECB).
The interaction lasted barely two minutes but was worth a lifelong memory.
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